A bill to re-open a window so certain sexual-abuse victims can sue the organizations that put them at risk is headed for Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.
A 2003 law that passed the Legislature with unanimous votes had expanded the statute of limitations for victims to file claims against third parties who knew their employees were a danger to children but still allowed them to work with kids. It gave victims over age 26 the opportunity to sue if they discovered their emotional and physical problems stemmed from the abuse they suffered as children, giving them three years from the time of discovery to file lawsuits. It also opened a one-year window – from 2003 to 2004 – for victims who were previously barred from filing.
But that law didn’t do anything for victims over 26 who made connection between their abuse and their problems after 2004. If signed into law, SB 131 would let those people sue and seek restitution in 2014.
The bill had been opposed by groups including the California Association of Private School Organizations, California Catholic Conference, California Council of Nonprofit Organizations and California State Alliance of YMCA.
“I want to thank my colleagues who had the courage to stand up for the victims of sexual abuse despite intense opposition,’’ Beall said in a news release today. “California must not retreat in the fight against child abuse. We are moving forward for the sake of the victims and for justice. SB 131 accomplishes that. It will make organizations accountable for knowingly protecting employees who sexually abused children in the work place.’’
The state Senate passed the bill 21-10 in May; the Assembly passed it 44-15 on Wednesday; and the state Senate concurred 21-8 on Friday.